The Rockytier

March 2017
Volume 29 Number 3

General Meeting:

Tuesday - March 7, 2017
Meet- 7:00 pm
@ Forrest Heights United Methodist Church 3007 33rd St. Lubbock, Texas.

Business Meeting:
Tuesday - March 14, 2017
Eat- 6:00 pm
Meet- 7:00 pm
@ Red Zone Café  3602 Slide Rd. Unit B1 Lubbock, Texas


Monthly themes will be Birthstones. Any stones of the same (or very similar) color as the months birthstones.

March: Aquamarine and Bloodstone

*rules continued later in newsletter.
2017 Shows: 
Big Spring Prospectors Club, Annual Show 4th-5th
Gulf Coast Gem & Mineral Society, Annual Show 4th-5th
Southwest Gem and Mineral Society, Annual Show 11th-12th
Abuquerque Gem & MIneral Club, Show and Sale 17th, 18th, 19th
Ada Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Club, Annual Show 24th-25th
Central Texas Gem & Mineral Society, Annual Show 8th-9th
Chihuahuan Desert Gem & Mineral Club, Annual Show 14th, 15th, 16th
Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Annual Show 29th-30th
Lubbock Gem & Mineral Society, Annual Show 6th-7th
Fort Worth Gem and Mineral Club, Annual Show 27th-28th

American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Annual Convention & Show 9th-11th

From the President:
Hello everyone!

March is here and we are very busy with finalizing details for putting on our show in May, but before that, we will have several exciting things happening with the club. In April, we will be co-hosting a presentation by Dr. David T. Burleigh, New Mexico Tech Professor of Materials & Metallurgical Engineering and an expert on Meteorites. In May we will be hosting Helen Serras-Herman, a gem carver and jewelry artist, and a frequent article contributor for Rock & Gem Magazine. Both presentations will be free and open to the public, more information will be available soon.

If you have not renewed your dues and membership form, your name will be taken off roster at the end of the month so if you forgot to renew, please take time to do it as soon as possible.

Now is a great time to get involved in helping with one of the many jobs that need a volenteer, or to take a step forward and present your favorite topic to the club. We want to know more about you and your passion for what keeps you interested in the earth sciences. See a board member to discuss what you can add to what we are doing!

Have a great month,
Walt Beneze, LGMS President


This is a reminder that dues are due for the year 2017. We have received a handful of dues forms and payments, so if you already filled out the form and paid, thank you!

If you still need to submit a form and payment, you can do so by following the link provided to our website and fill it out online here:

We are asking everyone to submit a new form even if you are a life member, in order to update contact information, etc...

You can make a payment online with Paypal, mail a check in, or bring your payment to the next meeting! Please help us keep the records up to date and do this as soon as you are able, thanks.

Happy Birthday! 
18-Jackie Kern
31-Tim McIntire
Happy Anniversary!
No Anniversaries this month


A march born shall always be

Soothed by Aqua, gem of sea

This mermaid’s treasured stone you wear

Will bring happiness, love, affection and care.”

Tips of the Trade
Cooking Tuxedo Agate

Treating or enhancing gemstone is a controversial topic. Most objections pertain to high‐end transparent facet‐grade gems where any attempt to hide flaws could be fraud if not disclosed. Likewise artificial diamonds or pearls have much lower value than unflawed natural ones. In contrast, with semi‐precious gemstones, it is often more acceptable to stabilize or heal material if it means colorful well patterned material can be rescued from the scrap heap. Many agates and jaspers have pitts, soft spots,or partially‐healed fractures. Sometimes whole varieties are known for their problems (e.g., Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper is notoriously fractured.) Perhaps this is because the small‐dollar value of the slab or cabochon does not change a lot pre‐post treatment, so it is not a financial fraud. As noted in an article about gemstone coloring on the on (
website “coloring of gem materials to make them more desirable to the consumer is as ancient as greed and avarice.” Clearly potential financial motivations are a large part of the controversy.

Nonetheless, semi‐precious stone treatments that heal, or other treatments that color/enhance, are not always viewed as negatively. Many semi‐precious stone enthusiasts place value on natural, and healing (or stabilizing) with a transparent resin is generally perceived as less unnatural than changing the color or pattern of a stone. I personally have never liked the bright pink, neon purple, and aqua blue dyed Brazilian agate slices found in many gift shops. Besides looking very unnatural, some of the dye is toxic. I usually turn my nose up at dyed material. Sometimes, for some people, heat‐treating to bring out reds and browns is not considered beyond the pale of natural. At least toxic chemicals are not involved, and natural variation/pattern is often preserved ‐ only in deeper colors.

One process for dying/enhancing agate that I have become fascinated with is called the sugar‐acid process, and it has a long history dating back to Roman times. This process can take an uninteresting pale grayish agate with light (sometime not too noticeable) white banding and transform it into a vivid agate with bold white bands against a stark black (or espresso brown) background. Essentially a dissolved sugar (CnH2nOn , where n is between 3 and 7) is given time to penetrate the pore space of the agate, and subsequently heated acid is used to strip off the H2nOn atoms and leave behind the Cn atoms– pure black carbon. It is not known when this was first done, but Pliny The Elder (born 23AD, died 79AD), in his Natural History seems to describe this process using honey and vinegar (acetic acid). [Kurt Nassau quotes applicable passages from Pliny on p69 of the 2nd edition of his book Gemstone Enhancement: History, Science, and State of the Art.]

In 1800s gem cutters in Germany and elsewhere applied more modern chemistry. Nassau credits a German gem cutter in Oberstein and Idar with rediscovery of the process in about 1820. Sulfuric acid was found to work much better than acetic acid. Daniel Russell, who wrote the article (above cited) article at, excerpts several scientific publications from around 1850 describing the process in some detail. Particular emphasis is placed on the fact that not all agates are porous enough, and noting how water penetrates or beads on the surface can predict whether the agate can be treated. One of the most detailed recipies is given by George W Fisher in his 1990 book on Gemstone Coloration and Dying, largely based on his one home experiments. (Text is available at:‐dying‐agate.htm). On today’s internet you can find various references to the sugar‐acid process, or even recipe details. There are some discrepancies about the exact concentrations, times, and amount of heat/boiling needed, as well as recommended types of agate and slab thickness, so any adventurous lapidary wishing to practice this ancient art should expect to have to work some bits out or to engage in a bit of trial and error. For example Fisher mentions boiling acid, but the boiling point is listed on Wikipedia as 639 F, which seems hotter than the hotplate described by Fisher was likely to produce – likely he meant simmer at 300‐400 F, where water in less than 100% sulfuric acid can be seen to make vapor bubbles. Fisher recommends Brazilian Agate and agate from Coconut Geodes as having suitable bands in otherwise porous agate. Periodically there has been modern commercial manufacture of small sugar‐acid batches. My first introduction was via a stone called Tuxedo Agate produced by The Gem Shop in Cedarburg Wisconsin, and sold in Tucson shows in 2005. Nice cabochon pictures can be found at Slabs, generally cut thin to insure penetration, were also sold. When I visited the store in 2010 small quantities still remained. A few ounce lot of several small slabs priced at $70 or higher. When I inquired, Gene Mueller who owns The Gem Shop, told me they had used Moroccan Agate. Interestingly, very similar sugar‐acid treatment is commercially applied to darken the matrix of Andamooka Opal from Australia. Since it is the matrix that is darkened and not the actual opal, this practice seem uncontroversial. For a good description with pictures see: (I also note they simmer the acid at about 170 F). A slightly more homegrown method employing heated potpourri bowls is given by American lapidary George Bucholz (

To date I have made 3 batches of Tuxedo Agate from some rather plain Moroccan Agate, and an additional batch with Madagascar Agate, crazy lace agates, and other experimental materials. I also re‐ cooked part of my first batch because only a dark brown coloring was initially achieved. I recently got some very plain Brazilian and hope to get it slabbed and into sugar water before too long. Another small batch has been in sugar solution for a very long time now, and spring one day I will have a patio cookout. Gloves, pot holders, tongs, eye‐protection, fume venting, and all the usual sensible precautions apply. (This includes having a plan to neutralize and dispose of sulfuric acid. Washing soda is great to have on hand.) There have been a few glitches, and I am getting slightly less than 1/8” penetration, so 1⁄4” slabs may not color all the way through. I figure there is still room to tweak my process and the ideal agate for dying could be found any day. My efforts, complete with pre‐post pictures and discussion of difficulties, disappointments, and successes have been posted on online lapidary forums (see links below). Anyone who would like to get more information or discuss this further is welcome to catch up with me at a club meeting.

Gem and Mineral Facts

This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers — especially for blood disorders. It is sometimes called the martyr's stone as legend tells that it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross. 

Many other ancient cultures believed bloodstone had magical powers, with some references to its ability to heal dating back to 5000 BC.

The Babylonians used bloodstone in their divination. The Egyptians prized bloodstone because they believed it helped them to magically defeat their enemies. They also believed it increased their strength or made them invisible.

Still others believed that bloodstone could help control or change the weather, win legal battles, or give the gift of prophecy. It was so loved for its properties, many used the stone in jewelry, signet rings and even small cups or statues.

Today, many still cherish bloodstone as a lucky charm or amulet and is prized by athletes or those who wish to increase their personal strength. Some believe it helps with mental clarity or increasing creativity or even boosting overall energy.

No matter how you use or wear bloodstone, it’s a unique stone great for everyday use when you want to look good or even feel good.

from American Gem Society, Bloodstone History

What is Prasiolite?

Prasiolite is a yellow-green to green variety of quartz that is cut into faceted stones for use in jewelry or purchased by gemstone collectors. It is produced by the three processes described below:

Heat-Treated Amethyst: Most prasiolite is produced by heating natural amethyst in a laboratory oven to about 500 degrees Celsius. This heating changes the amethyst's color from purple to green or yellowish green. [1]

Irradiated Amethyst: A small amount of prasiolite is produced by irradiating natural amethyst. This produces prasiolite with a light green color. The green color is often unstable and can fade to colorless if the stone is exposed to temperatures over about 150 degrees Celsius.

Naturally Heated Amethyst: Another small amount of amethyst is heated by natural processes. It is found where an amethyst-bearing rock unit has been heated by younger lava flows or nearby intrusions.

--Natural Amethyst picture on the right, treated on the left--


The rules for the JALAF are:
Participants will remain beginners for one year from the month in which they enter their first piece in each category. At the end of one year the participant will be considered experienced in the categories they have entered. The JALAF master will attempt to keep records, but we will operate on an honor system as well.

We want to share and learn from the knowledge you acquired while finding, working or setting the piece, so please come prepared to tell us what you know (don’t worry if you don’t know what you have, hopefully someone can tell you)! The JALAF is open to Members, Juniors and Visitors.

We REALLY WANT and STRONGLY encourage ALL to bring pieces that fit the month’s theme, even if they are not eligible for entry because they do not meet the criteria or have previously won a feather. These pieces will be entered as display only, and will not be part of that month’s competition. PLEASE share your expertise and adventures with the rest of us.


Two levels in each category:

Specimens and Fossils: YOU must have found OR worked an otherwise acquired specimen.
Cabochons, Carvings and Facets: YOU must have created the piece yourself.
Jewelry: YOU must have created the setting OR worked the stone.

Since some months have more than one birthstone, we will be going by the American Gem Society list, found at:

Here is hoping everyone will compete and have fun!

Next Meetings
General: March 7th
Business: March 14th

Lubbock Gem & Mineral Society
Member of South Central Federation of Mineral Societies
Member of American Federation of Mineralogical Societie

THE ROCKYTIER is the official Bulletin of the Lubbock Gem and Mineral Society, Box 6371, Lubbock, TX. 79493. Meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month @ Forrest Heights United Methodist Church - 3007 33rd St. Lubbock, TX. at 7:00 p.m. unless announced otherwise. Annual dues are: $22.50 for adults, $10.00 for students 15 & up, $5.00 for students 6-15 and free for children under 6. Exchange editors are free to copy anything of interest from THE ROCKYTIER provided credit is given to the author of the article and THE ROCKYTIER.

The purpose of the Lubbock Gem and Mineral Society shall be:
(1) to bring about a closer association of those persons interested in the Earth Sciences and Lapidary Arts;
(2) to increase and disseminated knowledge about rocks, minerals, fossils and other geological materials;
(3) to encourage the study of rocks, minerals, fossils, artifacts, collecting and lapidary work and
(4) to conduct meetings, lectures, displays and field trips.

    President     Walter Beneze (806)797-5832  
    Past President     Bobbie Horn (806) 786-9362  
    Vice President     Michael Zink (806) 451-0039  
    Secetary     Sabrina Kreiger (806) 891-0165  
    Treasurer     Charles Cockrell (806) 786-6895  
    Director (first year)   Bobby Housour (806) 746-5969  
    Director (first year)   Sabrina Kreiger (806) 891-0165  
    Director (second year)   Valerie Zink (806) 451-0038  
    Director (second year)   Mica McGuire (806) 445-6859  
    Education Chairperson Club Michael Zink (806) 451-0039  
    Education Chairperson M.E.W. Greg Roberts (806) 787-6262  
    Show Chairperson   Walter Beneze (806) 797-5832  
    Newsletter Editor   Mica McGuire (806) 445-6859  
    Field Trip Chairperson   volenteer needed      
    Benevolence     volenteer needed      
    Web Master     Walter Beneze (806) 797-5832  
    Club Vests     volenteer needed      
    Club Library     Dave Swartz (806) 793-8045  
    There are many more positions that need a volenteer, please consider what
    you can do to help!            
Lubbock Gem & Mineral Society is a non-profit organization recognized under section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as an educational entity. Donations in any form are tax deductible as outlined by the IRS.

Copyright © 2017 The Lubbock Gem and Mineral Society, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
The Lubbock Gem and Mineral Society
PO Box 6371
Lubbock, TX 79493